For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sunday Lunch

Fresh-shaved from chapel, he wields
The carving knife at Sunday lunch,
Slices the beef-rib like a butcher.

The usual question, asked religiously
Each week. Now, do you want
A little bit of fat? You know it’s good for you.

Our giggles dry up with the gravy.
Still standing, cufflinks out
And sleeves rolled up, his braces

Hoisting too high his trousers,
He raises closed lids heavenwards:
Lord, bless this food.

He concentrates on chewing
Each mouthful twenty times.
Except for the exaggerated

Screech of knife on plate, it’s silent
As prayer. Little children
Should be seen, not heard.

My hunger’s gone.
My thoughts sink down
Through the burnt crust

Of meat and marbled yellow
Streaks of sorrow
To the skewered memory

Of bagfuls of blind kittens
He thrust into the water butt.
It’s cruel to be kind.

8 comments:

gleaner said...

Glad to see you back :) I thought I'd miss you but I coped!

I like this poem - the strong and powerful feelings of childhood, trying to interpret the world of adults/parents.

Is this poem an indication of the long journey you referred to in your previous post.

Tramp said...

Oh those Sunday lunches, it's the after taste of the roast lamb congealing on the tongue and roof of the mouth that I remember. We sat seated in silence, not daring to smile either at the comical figure of my father at the end of the table or at the chaos often caused when the knife slipped and plates, food and drinks were sent careering across the table.
...Tramp

Ruth said...

Lots of memories rekindled here, Robert. This is such a clear picture of someone (your dad, I'm guessing). I recognize my own dad after church service, carving the beef roast or leg of lamb with his cufflinks still intact. One of my dad's rare luxuries was having his shirts laundered and starched. Anyway, you've deftly revealed some tender and vivid truths about him. And that last stanza is a zinger of a revelation. I feel that vulnerability of childhood that is universal in this lovely poem.

The Solitary Walker said...

Gleaner, well divined :) There's a long journey inwards, but also some shorter journeys outwards, so I won't be posting quite as much.

Tramp - omigod, your experience is my own exactly!

And Ruth, I really appreciate your appreciation. Thank you.

Friko said...

my childhood Sunday Lunches were rather meagre for the first few years; later on they became 'stuff yourself feasts'.

Nowadays Sunday lunch is very special, we take our time over it, have small portions of food we don't have every day and savour every mouthful. A glass out of a good bottle helps make it all the more delightful

Stephentree said...

I too am a wanderer and writer from California. I write about synchronicities that turn into predictions. dnatree.us

am said...

This boy grew up to be a poet and a long distance walker. Ram Dass calls it fierce grace.

Dominic Rivron said...

Enjoyed the poem! For no logical reason I can see I was reminded of Christy Moore's song, Boning Halls, "Where the carcass is stripped down to the bone,/ All the flesh gets ripped off a country.